Workshop on the Understanding the Sendai Framework in coherence with the SDGs in Lao PDR: Towards the implementation of the national disaster risk reduction strategy and Sendai Framework Monitoring

Lao People's Democratic Republic
Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Asia and Pacific
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Office in Incheon for Northeast Asia and Global Education and Training Institute for Disaster Risk Reduction

Background and Introduction

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction is the global blueprint for disaster risk reduction (DRR). Adopted at the Third UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in March 2015, it was the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven global targets and four priorities for actions. The Sendai Framework reinforces the shift from managing disasters to managing risk, and also establishes resilience-building as a shared vision of the 2030 Agenda.

Specifically, the Sendai Framework calls for strong political leadership, commitment, and involvement of all stakeholders at all levels from local to national and international to pursue a goal to:
“prevent new and reduce existing disaster risk through the implementation of integrated and inclusive economic, structural, legal, social, health, cultural, educational, environmental, technological, political and institutional measures that prevent and reduce hazard exposure and vulnerability to disaster, increase preparedness for response and recovery, and thus strengthen resilience”.

Pursuit of such a comprehensive goal, requires a strategic approach and a well-defined plan to ensure efforts are coordinated, while still being inclusive of whole-of-society, and to ensure resources are efficiently used across all sectors and by all stakeholders. Reflecting this foundational requirement, Target E of the Sendai Framework calls to “substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020”. This precise target is shared with indicators of SDG 1 that calls for an end to poverty, SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and SDG 13 on climate action.

Within the guidance and spirit of the Sendai Framework, the UN member states have requested UNDRR to continue its mandate of facilitating the implementation, review and monitoring of the Framework. Accordingly, the UNDRR provides training on disaster risk reduction with affiliated organizations to countries and relevant stakeholders to improve understanding of the Sendai Framework, including planning for its implementation and use of relevant monitoring tools.

Lao PDR Country Background

Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is a landlocked country located in Southeast Asia, bordering Thailand, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Myanmar and China in the North, the total land area covers approximately 236 800 km2, comprising a wide range of ecosystems within varying levels of elevation. Due to the mountainous topography, only about 6.2 percent of the total land area classified as arable {CFE-DM, 2017). The western border largely follows along the Mekong river, which is also central for agricultural production due to the fertility of the river valleys.

Administratively Lao PDR is divided three tiers, first level of which comprises 16 provinces and one municipality which hosts the capital city Vientiane, the provinces are further sub-divided into 142 districts, which comprise 11 390 villages (Government of Lao PDR, 2014).

Due to the tropical setting, the country is also exposed to a range of hazards, including droughts, floods and storms, costliest of which have taken place after 2009 (GFDRR, 2019). National risk profile of Lao PDR has identified seven major hazards which include the aforementioned, as well as epidemics, earthquakes and unexploded ordinances (UXOs) (NDMC, 2010). Of these, storms and flooding are most frequent occurrences during the monsoon season which runs from May to October, and most notable events include the Typhoon Ketsana in 2009 and Haima in 2011. Localized flooding has been reported in 2013, 2015, 2016 (UNDP, 2018) and most recently in 2018 during storm Son-Tinh. Major rivers such as the Mekong and Sekong flowing through the country contribute to these flood hazards as a significant number of settlements are located on the flood plains.

To tackle the emerging threats, the government has incorporated disaster and climate risk management into policies, institutions and national development plans to enhance resilience of various sectors, including in agriculture and environment, housing and transport (GFDRR, 2019), and has strived to mainstream elements of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation activities across national developments.

Hazards and Risks

Lao PDR is susceptible to major hazards despite the relatively being low risks when compared to its neighbours. National risk profile of Lao PDR has identified seven major hazards which include storms, flooding droughts, as well as epidemics, earthquakes, landslides and unexploded ordinances (UXOs) (NDMC, 2010). One fourth of the area of Lao PDR is considered to be a high risk zone for earthquakes, and more than 30 percent of the country is located in a moderate earthquake hazard zone (NDMC, 2010). However, no significant earthquake-related disasters have been reported in the past (JICA, 2015).

While the mountainous regions separating Lao PDR and Viet Nam often protect the country from typhoon impacts, heavy rain, flooding and associated landslides still have the potential to result in losses of lives, property and production (Government of Lao PDR, 2014). Hydrometeorological hazards indeed form the greatest risk to the people, livelihoods, infrastructure and economy as flooding is common along the eight river basins across the country. Most vulnerable areas of the country are the low-lying flood plains along the Mekong River and its major tributaries in the central and southern parts of Lao PDR (Government of the Lao PDR, 2011). Also, and often correlating with high precipitation, landslides threaten approximately 5.24 percent of the country in the southeast and central part of the country due to steep topography and soil conditions (NDMC, 2010).

Droughts are also a significant risk in Lao PDR as they have the potential to impact hydrological cycles, and because they impact biodiversity, human health, hydroelectric power generation, and may lead to increased pollution, forced migration and increased prevalence of diseases (Miyam, 2015). Drastic reduction in rain-fed rice production in the Mekong lowlands has already been seen, and increasing numbers of people are at risk due to the adverse impacts of water scarcity and drought conditions (Miyam, 2015). However, the impacts of droughts are projected to significantly worse in the southern parts of the country (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment & WFP, 2016).

Workshop Purpose

The overall purpose of this Understanding the Sendai Framework in coherence with the SDGs in Lao PDR: Towards the implementation of the national disaster risk reduction strategy and Sendai Framework Monitoring workshop is to strengthen understanding of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction requirements for developing and adopting national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020, in coherence with the SDGs, and to strengthen institutional mechanisms for implementation and monitoring mechanisms.

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